After the beating I fell into a deep depression. I became reclusive, spending time alone, riding my horse or writing poetry. The poems were dark and spoke of death. It was like I’d fallen into a deep well and I didn’t care if anyone found me. I was okay alone in the dark. I even began to think of suicide.
One of my cousins even took me to see a doctor hoping that I would open up and talk. I didn’t. Why would I tell a stranger? Would they have believed me? I do know that my family and relatives saw the change in me, but back then no one knew what to do or how to help.
In some ways writing poetry became healing for me. I wrote short stories as well, pouring myself into the characters, escaping into a world of fantasy. I believe writing is what helped to save me from committing suicide. I learned to function and survive, eventually becoming a party girl and masking the pain with alcohol and parties.
Fast forward to1993, at the age of 33 and I found myself in my pastor’s office for counseling. I had been seeing him for a few months and in each session as I poured out my story the Lord, through this compassionate man, took my broken and bloodied heart in His gentle hands and began to heal it.
When the time came for me to share this particular story of the beating I wasn’t sure what to expect. But seeing my pastor’s eyes well up with tears moved me deeply. No one had ever showed that much emotion regarding my abuse and my pain before.
(In some ways I am jumping ahead a bit with my counseling because there is much that took place before this session that prepared my heart for this day. I will share that part of my counseling another time.)
We discussed the possibilities of why my uncle would resort to beating me over a seemingly small and insignificant incident. I believe part of it was that he had his siblings watching how he was raising me, his brother’s child. He wanted to make sure I turned out alright, plus he raised me the only way he knew how. I would never know for sure what prompted him to react with rage that day. But that day in my pastor’s office I came face to face with a choice.
Up until this point we had talked some about forgiveness. I had read many books on forgiveness, what it was and what it wasn’t.
And so after talking about the incident it was time to go into prayer and invite the Lord into this memory. It was quite an emotional time of prayer and it took an unexpected turn as the Lord for a brief moment opened my spiritual eyes to see the man who was my uncle. It was like I saw him through my Lord’s eyes, and God was deeply grieved and angry over the evil that this man had perpetrated on those closest to him.
And it was at that moment that I knew I had to forgive my uncle. He knew no better, he was a wounded, bitter, angry lost soul. And one day, unless he repented, he would answer for his actions before the Righteous, Holy God. I feared for his soul, and it was then that I knew I could, that I had to forgive him.
Forgive him not for his sake, but for mine. No longer did I want to carry this pain around, no longer was I going to give him power by not forgiving him. Did it excuse him-not at all….but the pain, anguish and anger I felt melted away as I asked the Lord to accomplish, to appropriate His forgiveness in me. In my own strength I could not forgive but with the power of the Holy Spirit forgiveness could be accomplished.
With tears I voiced the words out loud and as I did the Lord began to replace the hurt and pain with His amazing love…my heart began to heal. It began in an instant but was accomplished over time.
Supernatural- yes, because on my own I could not do this, all I could ever do was put a band aid over the wound, but it was the Holy Spirit who took the oozing wound, cleaned out the poison and with the healing balm of Gilead began to heal the damage.
Yes, there are scars left but they don’t hurt anymore. The scars we bear from a wounded body and heart, only say that we have been through a battle and emerged as survivors. Our scars do not change who we are. We may bear them proudly as we stand alongside our Savior, the One who bears scars from a deep wounding. The One who was wounded for us.
In the book of Isaiah it tells us that our Lord Jesus was wounded & bruised for our sins, He was beaten that we might have peace, He was lashed and we were healed! Amazing.
I need to add that just because I forgave did not mean that all was right and good between my uncle and me. I still had much to learn about boundaries and how to live healthy and walk out my healing. I had to learn how to forgive another’s past sins and at the same time take a stand against future sins.
I will try and share at a later time what I’ve learned about forgiveness and boundaries.